That the famous Rabbi Moses Maimonides (Egypt, 1178) condoned—or even recommended—spousal abuse has been widely reported. The claim involves one sentence in his writings (Ishut § 21.10a). The present article finds that the standard interpretation of this passage ignores the text’s řgures of speech, the case dynamics, the issue’s legal history, and the literary context. The author finds unconvincing the published “proof” that medieval legal experts read the passage literally. The article concludes by pondering the meaning of the standard view’s popularity.
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Updated 2 November 2009 • Culver City, California, USA